By on March 10, 2011

Ryan writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I’ve got a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that I’ve had since new as my only car.  It was my first new car and I got it right out of college.  It is configured exactly as I planned and I still love it today just as much as when I bought it, and best of all, it’s paid off.  I live in Denver and take the Jeep up on mountain trails and explore the Utah desert from time to time.  Still, with 80,000 miles on the clock, the 4×4 is aging a bit.  My plan is to retire the Jeep from its daily burdens and add a more sensible daily driver.

Camcords or a Fusion would be logical, but I’d like something a bit more sporting, but nothing crazy-go-nuts.  Understated ability is what I’m after with a max budget around $20,000.  After tackling a sizable car payment right out of college, I’m very gun shy about going with a new car again.  I’m narrowing in on a previous generation Legacy GT or possibly a Mazda 6.  Unlike the previous New or Used reader, I drove a new Legacy GT in 09 and loved it so much I came close to trading in the Jeep on it, but then I slapped myself back into reality.  The Mazda has always held my attention, but I’ve got no experience with it.

A misguided friend of mine incessantly criticizes my affection for the Legacy on the basis that it is a quintessential soccer mom car.  Despite his grossly inaccurate assessment of the Subie’s market, it underlies the fact that I’m looking for something a little off the radar, but pleasantly confident, inspiring, and enjoyable to drive.  Do you have any ideas as to such a daily driver to compliment my Jeep or assessments of my “soccer mom” choices?

Sajeev Answers:

None of your Soccer Mom choices are bad, but perhaps your quest for something “a little off the radar” means you should buy a stereotypical mommy-mobile and hot rod the hell out of it. The V6 Camry, Accord V6, Fusion Sport (Appearance Package), or if you’re truly insane about being stealthy quick, a used Lexus ES or Lincoln MKZ.  Yes, I said “quick” in the same sentence as these cars.

You are dying for a Q-ship, there’s no doubt about it.  While these cars are all terrible for you in many ways,  they all become moderately awesome with the right suspension upgrades: understeer reducing rear swaybars, for starters.  Sticky tires, summer units since you have a Jeep as a spare vehicle.  Bilstein-esque or Koni-ish types of shocks. And chassis braces to stiffen up the undercarriage bits a touch, as seen here. Plus, a Hondata or SCT tune to wake up the air-fuel ratios and transmission scheduling.

My choice?  I can’t decide between a slightly used V6 Camry SE with the suspension and chassis tuning above, or a moderately used Lexus ES-Camry or Lincoln MKZ-Fusion with similar upgrades to compensate for the softer factory tuning.  I believe either option will gives you what you want, but I like the idea of AWD in a well optioned, heavily depreciated Lincoln Fusion.  The A/C seats (even in Colorado) are worth it.

Steve Answers:

If you like the car and it’s worth the 20k to you, buy it. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with buying a ‘soft’ car because as time goes by, the hard riding one can be an absolute bear as a daily driver.

Your ‘shoes’ are different from my shoes. My shoes stipulate that a youthful ride like yours should be worn until they start showing serious wear. Then get them resoled. In automotive terms this would mean getting new tires, struts, shocks, and perhaps even a nicer stereo system. Those items will collectively cost less than 10% of your new car and should usually last the next five to seven years.

Sajeev’s advice may be too buy. But to me the bigger question is whether you can ‘invest’ given what you have. For the love and passion of owning a truly covetous vehicle like a Wrangler Rubicon, I would recommend that route.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to [email protected], and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder. In a rush?  Don’t be shy about asking to cut in line.

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86 Comments on “New or Used: A Soccer Mom, Off The Radar...”


  • avatar
    segfault

    New tires, struts, and shocks on a Wrangler and you still have one of the worst-riding vehicles on the road today.

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      It’s a truck! Jeep Wranglers are not supposed to be compared to “vehicles on the road”.

      Does anyone go out and say, “The Camry is the worst riding vehicle on the Rubicon Trail?”. No, because it’s a CARRRR.

      People should not ever ever buy a Jeep Wrangler and expect it to ride like a car, never.

    • 0 avatar
      robert_h

      Consumer Reports would agree. They don’t get the Wrangler, either.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      I rented a Wrangler last year in the Outer Banks and lived with it for a week.  Until then, I hadn’t driven a wranger since high school (early nineties).  I was amazed at how quiet and comfortable the wrangler had become.
      The new wrangler rides better than many CARS of 15 years ago.  For a vehicle that is as off-road capable as the wrangler, it does a fine job with NVH and overall ride quality.  If the back seat was a bit bigger I would consider a Wrangler Unlimited to replace my Grand Cherokee when the time comes.
       
      -ted

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    BTW that picture is an 2007 Rubicon. ’06 was the last year of the TJ, when they were actually build well.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    BTW that’s an 2007 Rubicon. ’06 was the last year of the TJ, when they were actually build well.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    BTW that picture is an 2007 Rubicon. ’06 was the last year of the TJ, when they were actually build well.

  • avatar
    LennyZ

    Scion TC, a deal at 20K

    • 0 avatar
      epsilonkore

      +1
      Dont upgrade any exterior parts to hold sleeper look. Swaybars front and back, TRD springs and struts (that also lower it), a Headunit upgrade (pioneer AVIC) and possibly a TRD Supercharger after purchase that the insurance company will never ding you for… fast, fun, still hauls in comfort and reliability with excellent depreciation to boot.

    • 0 avatar
      jonnyguitar

      Anything Scion, but especially, the tC, is strictly for douchebags.

      Most people who drive one actually believe its a sports car, and drive accordingly.

      Only Mustang and possibly the occasional Civic driver are worse.

    • 0 avatar
      epsilonkore

      jonnyguitar: please re-read the originating article above and both posts that you are commenting to. There were no “sports cars” mentioned in being wanted or suggested.  The post mentions Rubicon/Camry/Fusion/Accord/MKZ and Subaru’s in various states of mild modification under $20k, non are “sports cars”. Neither is the Avensis derived tC.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @epsilon:  Sorry, gotta agree with Johnny on the Tc.  Even following your logic, it doesnt add up.  The Scion isnt practical, and it isnt sporty.  Once you spend about $7k upgrading it, it still isnt sporty or practical, and it will most likely break, thats not a good engine for FI.  You then ruin what little resale value it has, and… I checked… the insurance rates suck on it because they are all driven by teenagers who read Super Street.  Although, they can be found pretty cheap used, and they are reliable and fairly efficient, so maybe as a used daily driver it wouldnt be a bad choice.  But I cant see a guy who owns a Wrangler driving a car thats most likely to have neon undercar lighting.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    It might be a little “pedestrian” depending on how good sales have been in your country, but you could check to see if your local Hyundai or Kia dealer has a base Sonata or Optima in stock.   200hp and a 6-speed manual.  I’ve seen dealers advertising on Auto Trader right about $20,000 before taxes and ect.  You could even try the “Go to eBay and make a bid on a new one” and see if the local dealers accept your offer.  (manual trans model would definitely not be “typical.”

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    You have a paid-off vehicle you really enjoy.
     
    It’s 5 years old with well under 100K miles.
     
    It has what may be the best enthusiast/afternarket/parts community of any vehicle in the world.
     
    There’s absolutely no reason you can’t drive this Jeep every day for another 5 years, aside from all the typical Jeep drawbacks, which you seem to be OK with.
     
    Why do you want to spend $20K and apparently go into debt to get another car?
     
    Seems like you just want a new toy, which is fine.  Go pick up some <$5K beater to play with and avoid the debt monster.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Why do you want to spend $20K and apparently go into debt to get another car?

      Maybe it would bring him the most enjoyment.   Some people would want to go on a $3600 week long vacation every year some people would rather spend that on driving a new car.   What’s wrong with that?

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      jmo+1
      Your opinion on whether or not she should purchase was not asked for.

      Whenever these articles appear there’s always at least one who feels the need to preach.

      Please stop the sanctimonious bs.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      @hubcap.
      Not a she.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Maybe it would bring him the most enjoyment.   Some people would want to go on a $3600 week long vacation every year some people would rather spend that on driving a new car.   What’s wrong with that?
       
      Not a damn thing.  In fact, the vacation thing works really well for us.  Instead of gifts for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries,or that bastation of BS – Valentines Day, we go away once a year on a 10 day no compromises vacation.  Great dinners, slopeside condos, beautiful beaches…sure beats the stress of trying to buy “just the right gift”…

    • 0 avatar
      MSerapis

      It’s amazing, someone speaks with a little common sense and he is accused of “preaching”!  Are we so cocooned in our own little web spaces and feeds today that we cannot bear to hear an opinion which might challenge ours in the least little way? I grew up listening to the old fellows tell me all sorts of things I did not want to hear. But latter in life I realized for the most part they were speaking from wisdom, something I lacked. I only wish I could have listened more.
      JMO, “Maybe it would bring him the most enjoyment”? I don’t know but going into debt never brought me much enjoyment. When will people learn that if you only buy what you have the money for then you will never owe anyone anything? Look around at the housing market and the economy. That was people telling themselves, maybe it would bring me enjoyment to have whatever I want wether I can afford it or not.
       

  • avatar
    76triumph

    Mazda3?  You can get an s Grand Touring new for about $21k with 0% financing.  How about a 2012 Focus?

  • avatar
    redliner

    Safe choice:  Previous generation Acura TSX or TL.
     
    Crazy choice: Saab 9-3 SportCombi or previous generation Jaguar XJ8 (a very underrated car IMHO)

  • avatar
    thesal

    On the list of rare but great value/perforrmance, dont forget these two:

    Altima 3.5 w/ a manual
    4-Door Cobalt SS Turbocharged (this one looks like a budget rental but will blow your socks off!)

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      +! on the Cobalt!!! Or, to save even more, get a base model devoid of almost everything save A/C and hot-rod the daylights out of it and keep it a sleeper. Case in point: Years ago (1969), my friend’s dad got a third car for the kids to “share” – a 1965 Chevy Biscayne 2 door sedan. It had a 283 w/Powerglide. NO PS, PB or anything else. That thing would flat-out scream!

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      You may save on buying a stripper Cobalt, but after you have to spend close to $8K upgrading everything necessary to keep from blowing up parts left and right, it’s better just to buy the SS. I used to have one and looked into it. You’d need a new tranny since the one that’s in there can only handle 150 ftlb, add on all new shocks, struts, rims and nice tires and it just ain’t worth it to save a few grand if at all. Plus, you’re saddled with the low end model with the extra shitty seats, next to no sound proofing, no power anything, and a shit stereo.
       
      Nice in theory, but not so much in practice.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Zackman, I have to agree with WalkingEye.  I kind of thought you were stretching with comparing a base Cobalt to a 69 Biscayne, but I like your line of thinking!

      Along that same idea, I have seen quite a few Solstice non-GXPs for sale pretty cheap, like $11-12k.  They had a great 2.4 Ecotec and a strong drivetrain (RWD too!), from what I have read, you can build a hell of a strong engine out of that.  Or there is always the LSx swap option.

  • avatar
    Acubra

    If the total budget is 20K, I’d only spent on the car itself something within 17-18K, and leave the rest for a comprehensive maintenance job (all fluids/filters, spark plugs, tires, etc.)
    I’d suggest an Acura TSX, actually. Economical, totally reliable, fun to drive, does not need any enhancements (suspension, etc.).

  • avatar
    HalfMast

    Since you’re interested in Mazda’s, I’ll throw in my experiance….

    I personally like the Mazda3 over the 6.  It’s a tighter driving car (though also tighter on room, space, etc.).  The 6 has just always felt a little more loose and a little cheaper to me.  I just bought my wife a fully-loaded (including nav) Mazda3 sGT for ~$22k.  You could get a brand new one with a couple less buttons for $20k, or get all the bells and whistles in an 2008 for under $20, no problem.

    The car I REALLY love, is my Mazda RX-8.  It’s not a rocket by any means, but very much fun to drive, and more practical than a normal 2-seater.  Give it a test drive, you’ll either hate it or fall in love.  $20k will get you a gently used ’09, according to CarMax.  It would be a different kind of driving than your Rubican, but still a lot of fun. 

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      HalfMast:
       
      Did ya get the Turbo hatch with the manual or the standard unit in the sedan?
       
      P.S
      Black interior or tan cloth?

    • 0 avatar
      HalfMast

      It’s for my wife, so we got the S sedan w/ black leather. If it was for me, it would have been the Mazdaspeed Hatch. 

      Good point, though, Mazdaspeed3 is a hot little car, and the hatch gives it plenty of room for “stuff”.  I think it adds about 4k to the MSRP, if I recall.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      HalfMast:
       
      Personally,
      I cant even comprehend why people even bother buying the sedan version of this car. Its one of FEW variations made in a car with a turbo AND a hatch, ntm some REAL CHUTSPA / balls.
       
      Its got a 2.5 n/a, and a turbo 2.3ltr pushing out 268 for the hatch. The interior for black is really poor. The backlighting is decent. It’s better designed than Civic (forget corolla or the Dodge Caliber) (has a better layout all the way around. I saw the spot for the nav. unit probably 3″x3″ tucked into a alcove… another reason why nav units in packages aren’t worth it. The aftermarket nav units are a $$ H U G E $$ saver, on top of upgrading and visibility!) But the tan cloth.. makes it look soo much better.
       
      The hatch is always where its at. As for price difference = haggling. That car in the hatch, in light blue or dark red.. is SEX on FIRE.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Actually the RX8 is an excellent idea for him… I hadnt thought of that one.  However, around here you can get an 09 RX8 for $16-17k, and if you drop down t 2006-07 models they are available all day long for $12-13k, and thats still with very low miles.

      An amazing bargain for a used car, they just dont seem to be very popular.  I hear the gas mileage sucks, and there are engine reliability fears, but I understand Mazda now warranties every RX8 engine for 100k miles, and bad gas mileage seems to be directly related to a heavy foot.  We have been considering replacing my wife’s MR2 Spyder with one simply because they are so cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      HalfMast

      Acc azda atch:

      I agree with the qualities of the hatch turbo, but my wife views this as a 4-wheeled transportation method, not a CAR (as you or I would).  She hate’s the look of a hatch and couldn’t car less how many HP the car is.  I do agree with her, though, that having a GPS built in, with the stereo and steering wheel control integration is such a better arrangement than suction-cupping a touch-screen to the window.  More expensive, yes, but she let me buy my RX-8 with little input, so this was her car to decide on.  If it was my call, I’d probably have the same as you.

      mnm4ever:  Yes, MPG sucks, but probably isn’t that far off from the Wrangler.  I’m currently driving all city and getting around 18.  I did better when I was driving more highway.  They did have engine troubles before, blowing seals.  What I’ve heard is they’ve had that solved since ’07 model (my ’09 hasn’t had any problem).  All said, I love mine!  The handling is fantastic, and once you adjust to the wankle-engine’s linear tourque curve, you can get it do anything you want!

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      mmm4ever:
       
      Why would you get rid of a MR2 Spyder.. for a RX8?!?!
       
      Forget the initial price itself.. but the mait on top…
      Ya got a MR2.. a car that goes back to when Toyota actually MADE cars, against a RX8 that never got half of the updates / editions or sport packages that the JDM market did.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @halfmast — 18mpg isnt too bad, I am only getting 22mpg around town in my GTI.  I had considered the RX8 instead of the GTI, but the maintenance and mileage made me reconsider.  Somehow I dont think I am going to do much better with the GTI! 

      @aac — “Replace” wasnt the right word… we would keep the MR2 as our shared toy, actually planning on tracking it.  The car is wonderful, so much fun, but really not the best to commute in every day.  Plus, although its been really reliable, it is at the stage where it needs some overhaul… bushings, struts, bearings, maybe some chassis bracing, and I think I am hearing the dreaded valve tick that the 1ZZ is prone to.  They generally can tick away for years without issue, but I worry there is an engine replacement in my future.  And if I replace the engine, I may as well go for a swap, something built up, you can go crazy with that stuff!!

      And, they get the same engine in the Mazda3 GT sedan that the hatch has, they are both 2.3 n/a, the 2.0 is only on the lower 2 models.  I prefer the hatch as well, but the sedan is good looking too, better than the last gen.  I didnt like the interior on any of them, it just felt cheap.  But I liked the standard black cloth best, the MS3 was kinda too 80s looking to me with that weird red splatter (regardless of exterior color, which looked extra strange with the blue I wanted!), and I hated the tan.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    If you really liked the Subaru but want something different how about an Outback sport utility sedan? You can have your “soccer mom” car and go off road at the same time.
    Tell your friend they are totally wrong about the Subaru demographic. Subies are driven by hippies, Boulderites and New Englanders (one in the same?). All Jeeps other than the Wrangler are mommymobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      Let’s not forget the Joey Has Two Mommies demographic.  Here in my neck of the woods, there are three Lesbian couples and each owns at least one Subaru Outback.  Correlation is not necessarily causality, and these ladies are nice, friendly reliable and quiet neighbors, but it is striking that they all drive Subies…

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      There are six Subarus in this cul de sac.  Four driven by little old ladies, one by an old man, and one by a 40 year old guy just back from Iraq.
       
      The lesbian household has a RX350 and had a 330i they just traded for a 535.  I’ve seen a lot of fag stickers on Civics, Rav4s, Ford cars.  Only a few on Subies.
       
      For all the humor inherent to a vehicle that’s at home in the bush I haven’t seen much basis to the stereotype.

    • 0 avatar
      The Walking Eye

      Why care at all what your neighbors or strangers think of your car’s “identity?” Buy what you like and then take your friends out in your so-called gay/mommy/granny car and hoon like no tomorrow and show ’em what’s what.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Maybe lesbians just have really good taste in cars??  I like Subs, I couldnt care less if they are known for that.  But I also like Miatas and VW Cabrios, so maybe its just me… LOL

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Subies are driven by birkenstock wearing lesbians where I live.  They need a car they haul their dogs around in and look “tough, but tender”
       
       

  • avatar
    aspade

    The first thing he says he wants is a “more sensible daily driver.”   Baloney.  There’s nothing sensible about taking on a $400 payment when you don’t have to.
     
    What he really wants is a new toy.  Sensible is just an adult sounding excuse to justify it.
     
    Stop right there.  That reasoning will lead you directly into a vanilla FWD jellybean like the ones being recommended here.   And guess what, that won’t be much fun either.   In a couple years you’ll be finding excuses to replace that too.
     
    You said you want something sporting.  So get one.  A G35.  A Mustang.  A Genesis coupe.  A G8 GT. A X-Runner Taco.
     
    You’ll thank yourself later.
     

  • avatar
    Wagen

    Suzuki Kizashi.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I saw one of these in the flesh the other day, first time ever, and, driving dynamics aside (I didn’t drive it since it was in a parking lot), I thought the proportions were off somehow.

      I’m not a design student and don’t pretend to be one, but it doesn’t look right.

  • avatar
    MR2turbo4evr

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the logic behind spending $20,000 on a second car just because the 4×4 system in the Jeep is “getting tired”. If you like the vehicle, just keep on driving it. If the 4×4 system breaks, spend a few thousand dollars to get it fixed and keep on driving. The depreciation alone on any newer vehicle is going to be at least a couple thousand each year. Plus, you’ll then have insure and maintain 2 vehicles, etc, etc. If you just want to buy another “fun” car, it’s a different story. In that case, I’d buy a used Miata for $5,000 and call it a day.

    • 0 avatar
      cronus

      I guess you’ve never own a used Wrangler before, at least one that gets taken offroad.  A couple of grand a year in depreciation is about a break even proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I believe that after 5 years and 80k, depreciation has already had most of its effect on this Jeep. He’s in the low depreciation zone at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Around here used Wranglers are like automotive gold… you are hard pressed to find any TJs for under $10k regardless of how beat up and crappy they are.  Decent road-worthy ones seem to bottom out around $12k and just stay there, no matter the miles or age.  YJs go cheaper, but even they cant be found for under $5k, and those are even beaters with no tops and rusted wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      N Number

      The four-wheel-drive system is perfectly functional in the Jeep.  I used the term ‘4×4’ to refer to the vehicle itself. A Miata would be awesome, but I can’t fit into one at all. I’ve tried, but I’m too tall.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      Very true, mnm4ever,

      Wranglers are relatively depreciation-free after five years…and at the five year mark, retain much more value than just about any other vehicle on the road (or off).

      Once a Wrangler hits its fifth birthday, its price is no longer measured by mileage (and even features) but by condition. In fact, a 10-year old Wrangler with half-doors and no A/C – but is rust and trail-abuse free – will command more in the used market than a more fully-optioned Wrangler at half the age – but showing the usual Wrangler rust spots and hoon abuse. 

      They are an acquired taste, and many are bought on a whim with little understanding of their character or limitations. With that in mind, you’d think many would be dumped back into the used market cheap. Too much Wrangler love in the world for that to happen, though.  

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I owned a 1992 YJ and only kept it for two years. Loved it…BUT…the hydraulic clutch was the last straw for me. Lots of money to have it changed – tranny has to be moved back to change the “donut” slave cylinder. Piece of junk. True, I bought it back in 2008, but even so…it sure was a fun ride just the same!

    • 0 avatar
      cronus

      It’s not that the vehicle depreciates anymore, it’s the continuous repair bills that make the depreciation on a new car look cheap.  Offroading is hard on a vehicle and jeeps don’t have the best reliability to start with. An older jeep can quickly turn into a money pit.

  • avatar

    The Legacy GT is a completely off the radar vehicle, IMO. Sporting, great handling, available in stick, yet with Subie’s typically good balance of ride and handling (my Outback is, I recongize, far more on the side of comfort than sport, but the Legacy is different). Go with a Legacy. The 09 looked fantastic too, in GT trim with that nice brown metallic they had. Great car, and I doubt you see many soccer moms in them. At all. Go for a Tribeca or Outback or Forester if you want that.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Man, do any of you guys actually read the letters??  He doesnt want a new car, he is being smart and looking at used cars.  And his max budget is $20k, not that he has to spend it all.  He is just looking for ideas.

    I love the Jeep, good choice to keep it… never sell it, just keep it, esp in Denver you will always have a use for a Jeep.  Also I say good choice in realizing it isnt the best daily driver, regardless of how fun it is.  Since you can afford it, getting something more tarmac-friendly is an excellent choice.

    But $20k???  Nah… save your money.  You have a second car thats paid for and runs great and is reliable as the sun.  I say go cheap, keep it under $10k, hell, keep it under $7k.  You can buy lots of fun/quirky/interesting/unique/enjoyable cars for that, and then do whatever you want to it.  But pick a style or something… sports car?  Muscle car?  Luxury car?  GT?  Sedan?  Hatch?  Wagon?

    I think I would go for a previous gen Mazda3 hatch, or a Legacy GT wagon with STI mods, or a pre-04 Mustang GT, or an older TL-TypeS, maybe an A6 Avant… or a mint E30 BMW, or maybe a Marauder… 350Z… geesh, theres too many choices!!

    oh no, forget any of that… classic 911, say an 87-88 model…  Yea I know, maybe a bit over $10k but would go perfectly with the Jeep, and still under $20k.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Reading carefully through his original letter, I don’t see anything to indicate that he’s looking specifically at used cars.
       
      What did I miss?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      “After tackling a sizable car payment right out of college, I’m very gun shy about going with a new car again.”

      You are right though, he didnt technically rule it out.  But he does seem to focus on used cars, and my comment was directed at the first 5 or so posts that sent him straight to the new car dealerships.  By the time I got around to typing my reply (supposed to be working afterall!), others had chimed in with more appropriate choices.

      I still say either go with something cheap to supplement the Jeep, or spend that money on something more “investment grade” like my dream Porsche, or maybe a classic Mustang or something…

  • avatar
    akitadog

    Since you’re looking at the 6s, I really like the previous-gen Mazda 6 wagon. It’s got good looks, decent room and utility, and good power, and you can find them relatively cheap. If you’re adventurous, you can look for one with the 5-speed stick and Sport trim. I’ve seen some in that getup for anywhere from 10K – 15K w/ about 45 – 60K miles. Not bad at all.
     
    Also, in the slightly more “crazy-go-nuts” category, there’s always the Mazdaspeed6.

  • avatar
    ctowne

    You know, Sajeev’s suggestion to hop up a luxury sedan isn’t a bad one. A LS400 or LS430 Lexus has a stonking V8, excellent build quality, and can be made to handle with a spring/shock package. You can get lower miles for well under $20k, and if you go with the 400, (which might be getting up in years) you can get it for pretty well under $10k. Murdered out with a set of 18’s it would spin my personal cool meter.
     
    Don’t ask me how i know, but you can hang the tail out on these. They really aren’t that bad to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      A friend of mine used to have a GS400 (before Lexus wussed them out), that was a fast car.  It was thier sporty model.  He still has it… something like 180k miles and looks showroom new.  Sounds awesome too, very throaty.  Toyota got that one right.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    As a fellow Rubocon owner I understand the desire to occasionally own something sporting and distinctly un-jeep
    Golf GTi with the DSG (since my Jeep is a manual)
    Then I think of all the gas and stuff you can do to a jeep for the monthly payment…

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Sajeev probably knows what I’m gonna say right now.
     
    Mazda 6….good looks, sporty yet comfortable ride and really peppy with the V6 (bonus if you find a hatch and stick shift). Even without the V6 the 6 is still a sporty ride.
     
     

  • avatar
    Zombo

    I always get a kick out of the Mazda recommendations here . Handles great ,gas mileage not so great, prone to rust -thin metal tink tink noise on tapping headliner . That handling must really be phenomenal  to ignore all the other short comings . I’ll take the reliability and  gas mileage of Hondas and Toyotas over Mazda’s handling  even though I really like the Mazda 2 .

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Zombo:
       
      In this day and age,
      It’s pretty poor to go buy any car based on reliability / resale and or gas mileage. I’ve had numerous Accords and I won’t buy another. The current iteration of the car is too damn big and way to damn slow. In this day and age where hapless / idiot prone / incompetent drivers need a viscous coupling and or a hatch is a big deal.. least Honda do is DESIGN a hatch into the Accord or shove one into the Civic. It’s not difficult, just expand and thicken the C pillar. NO, they are making it a plug in hybrid for the next iteration, because the vehicle fails at getting good 25-30mpg on a auto. (knowing that few people buy a STICK). The Accord in its current iteration isn’t efficient (the 4cycl cant move a D segment vehicle with any sense of efficiency or POWER). On top of, Honda isn’t even keeping up with engine technology. Their design and products are falling behind the wayside. Their VTEC system was fine for ’85 or even 02. Now ya got competitors who are actually spending money to do engine research and development on 4cycls as opposed to just sticking with a 6 as base and ignoring the 4cycl crowd.
       
      Buying a car for its gas mpg and or reliability is pretty poor. Knowing the recalls and the other issues with both companies. Now, Im not saying AT ALL that the domestics are doing a better job. Its that the Japanese just aren’t cutting the mustard. You could go out and actually bought a more fuel efficient car (with a little FUN) (like the coming Focus with the high efficiency / d.i 2ltr and or the comparable Mazda3hatch and or a Elantra Touring.)
       
      As for as thin metal goes..
      Ya’d have to prove the fact’s validity by comparing other thickness in cars of its size and or price class. As for hearing the “tink tink” sound.. only says there is no insulation above ya head, or in most placed where you would tap ya knuckle against the vehicle’s sheetmetal.

      P.S
      Even though.. its been proven that Mazda doesn’t DIP its cars.. just a cheap spray job. Another source of aggravation.

      However,
      I’d rather take my Mazda3hatch against a anemic (1.8ltr) Civic with a anchor weight of a motor, with a interior done on the cheap or a Corolla that couldn’t stop on a 50dollar bill. Honda and Toyota have both had the chance to put money into BOTH cars. Make the Civic with a hatch and update it significantly. As well as the Corolla.. is just the most gutless POS on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      How is buying a car for its fuel economy or reliability “pretty poor” when it’s how most people base buying decisions? I used to care about “raw speed”…then I turned 18. Doesn’t matter much in real world America.
       
      And for the record, I’ve still found Mazda wanting in the categories of reliability and fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Alex, I think you are wrong… most people base thier decision on price.  Today almost any car is extremely reliable and gets around the same fuel economy (compared to others in the same class).  Also, many people lease cars, and reliability just isnt too important then, they get rid of it before they have to pay for anything big.  Plus, MOST people arent car enthusiasts, they just want transportation with the appropriate amount of doodads that they like.  Which is why most manufacturers just add a bunch of electronics to otherwise mediocre cars and they sell.  The Camry sells the most because of its reputation as being extremely easy to own, you can never pop the hood, ignore all the maintenance, never give it a thought and you probably will never have a problem with it.  Most buyers could care less how fast it goes or how well it handles, because, as you say, in the real world that doesnt matter much.

      Except, to enthusiasts.  I like how quick my car is, I love how it handles, and the few times a day I can take a nice sweeping on-ramp at speed, or get the “pole position” at a light, I smile.  Sure most of the time I am stuck behind slow cars, but not every time.  I am willing to deal with slightly less economy or reliability if the rest of the package is good.  Which is why I like Mazda, Subaru, VW, and Nissan better than Toyota or Honda. Not Mitsubishi though… gotta draw the line somewhere!  :)    j/k Evo fans!

      I do all my own maintenance because I dont trust the dealers or most mechanics to do it right.  It costs me less that way, and I own a VW, which is known as an expensive to maintain car.  Not for me so much, because I take the time and I take pride in taking care of it.  Sounds silly, I know, but its what I am into.  It makes me smile every day I have owned it so far.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Alex Hannan:
       
      There are more things to debate about a car.. than its fuel economy and its reliability. Ya going to buy a Hyun/Kia cause their only point in the market is to underprice their cars against the Japanese? (Since ya got no clue about design, aesthetics or a hatch not in a cuv/suv, is that all that matters? — with the nanny push button start and ipod features?) Ya going to buy a Toyota cause their vehicles are on recall going back 15yrs?! Ya going to buy a Windstar / Freestar cause they’ve got cruise control issues going back to ’90? Ya going to buy a 3rd Gen Exploder cause its cheap and not have a concept about the rollover handling factor in a accident? Ya going to buy a GM vehicle cause the company only wants to make good cars –thick sarcasm. Ya going to buy 3ltr+6cycl 6th gen Accords cause of the transmission issues?!
       
      There are MORE factors going into buying a car than just fuel economy and reliability and to base a purchase on that.. is pretty damn POOR. Real world environment and or standard errand running everyday isn’t a excuse for pissing away a coupla grand on a cheap shit car who’s only benefit is its fuel economy and reliability.
       
      I don’t give a god damn how most people buy cars or the fact that price is the biggest issue or how people get snickered into the 4-sq concept of buying a car. There are ways around being a fool in what you choose to drive. In the end, just cause you got a good deal on a economical car.. says.. nothing about the car itself. It says ya got no clue about what ya driving, the company ya bought it from and couldn’t change the oil if ya had a gun to ya head.
       
      Raw speed, that’s another winner, just like 0-60. Its a pointless metric that ya have to have the room and or ability to control.
       
      As for Mazda..
      Ya not looking at the right cars. Life is too damn short to be stuck in a shiny primered Corolla / Civic. And to STILL be stuck in the, “reliability and fuel economy metric” says ya really not interested in cars. There is more to life than either. Remember Ford is offering the Stang to get 30mpg. Focus for 2012 with the d.i 2ltr can easily get 35-40… with the stick.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Zombo:

    In this day and age,
    Its pretty poor to go buy any car based on reliability / resale and or gas mileage. ”
     
    And that makes my point better than i could have .
     
     
     

  • avatar
    JMII

    Mazda Speed 6 – turbo / AWD, right around $20K used… done deal. Very sporty while under the radar for sure. True the gas mileage isn’t great but really the only knock on the 6 that’s I’ve read. Had a normal 6 as a rental awhile back and was really impressed with it compared to your typical Camry or Accord. It really is the “zoom zoom” choice if your looking at those other mommy mobiles.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    So gas mileage not so great , as is resale value , rust prone , but zoom , zoom , zoom , zoom ! Got it .

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Go back and read the post I made earlier.
       
      Resale is determined by who buys the car. Being that lots of boring people want a generic sedan with no balls and no ability to stop.

      On top of:
      I’ve had numerous Accords and I won’t buy another. The current iteration of the car is too damn big and way to damn slow. In this day and age where hapless / idiot prone / incompetent drivers need a viscous coupling and or a hatch is a big deal.. least Honda do is DESIGN a hatch into the Accord or shove one into the Civic. It’s not difficult, just expand and thicken the C pillar. NO, they are making it a plug in hybrid for the next iteration, because the vehicle fails at getting good 25-30mpg on a auto. (knowing that few people buy a STICK). The Accord in its current iteration isn’t efficient (the 4cycl cant move a D segment vehicle with any sense of efficiency or POWER). On top of, Honda isn’t even keeping up with engine technology. Their design and products are falling behind the wayside. Their VTEC system was fine for ’85 or even 02. Now ya got competitors who are actually spending money to do engine research and development on 4cycls as opposed to just sticking with a 6 as base and ignoring the 4cycl crowd.

      Buying a car for its gas mpg and or reliability is pretty poor. Knowing the recalls and the other issues with both companies. Now, Im not saying AT ALL that the domestics are doing a better job. Its that the Japanese just aren’t cutting the mustard. You could go out and actually bought a more fuel efficient car (with a little FUN) (like the coming Focus with the high efficiency / d.i 2ltr and or the comparable Mazda3hatch and or a Elantra Touring.)

      As for as thin metal goes..
      Ya’d have to prove the fact’s validity by comparing other thickness in cars of its size and or price class. As for hearing the “tink tink” sound.. only says there is no insulation above ya head, or in most placed where you would tap ya knuckle against the vehicle’s sheetmetal.

      P.S
      Even though.. its been proven that Mazda doesn’t DIP its cars.. just a cheap spray job. Another source of aggravation.

      However,
      I’d rather take my Mazda3hatch against a anemic (1.8ltr) Civic with a anchor weight of a motor, with a interior done on the cheap or a Corolla that couldn’t stop on a 50dollar bill. Honda and Toyota have both had the chance to put money into BOTH cars. Make the Civic with a hatch and update it significantly. As well as the Corolla.. is just the most gutless POS on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      HalfMast

      Zombo:
      I’ve owned 4 toyota’s before I bought my first Mazda…  my first camry went through three fuel tanks and an exhaust system because of rust.  My Corolla/Matrix went through 2 clutches.  Our Prius did better, but I suspect CV joint issues when we traded it in.  And trade in values were not impressive with any of them.  Obviously, the MPG on the Prius was good, but when we did the math against a comparable Corolla, it took 6 years to get get our money back from reduced fuel consumption.
      As a group, the Toyota’s were not impressive to drive.  I made the very intentional decision to sacrificed perceived reliability and fuel efficiency for a car that I enjoy being in and driving.  I have had my RX-8 for 2 years now without a single problem and have enjoyed every minute of it.  Just bought the Mazda3 for my wife, so I guess the jury is still out, but I am very happy with it’s quality and comfort.
      Others may have different experiences, and I don’t begrudge them their driving choice.  But I’m thrilled with mine and willing to stand behind it.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I dont think I have ever read any Mazda recommendation talk about them being rust prone, anything about tinking the roof, or whatever… just that they handle better than the average Japanese car.  Not sure where Zombo is coming from…

      I used to be a Honda fanatic, and Toyota was a close second.  That was back in the 80s and 90s when they made really great cars.  At one point I would never even consider buying anything but those brands.  But they lost me in the 2000’s.  The cars they make are generally more reliable than other brands.  But they decontented them to make more money, they simply arent as good now.  They got way bigger, way less peppy, and are basically no fun to drive.  I had a 1993 Civic Si, what a great car.  The new Si is faster, no doubt, but not nearly as fun, and it was a nice car.  The 2001 model I next looked at felt cheap in comparison.  Remember the 1996 Camry had triple door seals, and a dashboard that felt like a Lexus?  It looked good too.  Compare that to the 1997 model, with rubbermaid interior.

      The Celica All Trac, the Supra, the FX-16… all awesome cars, all gone.  I am convinced our MR2 Spyder is the last good Toyota before they totally sold out.  Today I went to lunch with a coworker who had a 2001 Accord, 4 cyl stick.  Man, what a FUN car, it felt peppy, had the nice low cowl Honda used to be known for, felt stiff, even being that old, it had 98k miles!  IMO, that was the last great Accord.

      I shopped every brand out there.  Aside from the Civic Si, niether brand offers anything for enthusiast driving.  Toyota and Honda are the safe choice.  I know they arent as perfect as fans say, but generally you wont have many problems with them, and maybe none at all.  But they are completely souless.  Appliances, and not even cool Bosch or LG appliances, but plain old Kenmore or GE.  I would rather spend the extra money on maintenance and a few repairs in exchange for a car with soul, that makes me smile whenever I drive it.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Get the Legacy GT.  You like the car (So do I…I’ve seriously considered one on several occasions) so go with your gut.  And you’ll save a lot by buying a three year old car versus a new one.  Moreover don’t buy one from a dealer…you’ll save money and probably avoid paying sales tax if you buy from a private party.  I made the mistake of buying a used “certified pre-owned” vehicle from a dealer once, and I’ll never do it again.
     
     

  • avatar
    ajla

    Understated ability is what I’m after with a max budget around $20,000.

    Get this.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Under $20k? Buy a Fusion SEL V6 or Sport V6 with all options, used.   Wanna real deal? Get the Merc Milan since they’re HEAVILY depreciated by now. 

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Lessee, you got the Jeep new, right out of college, and it’s now 5 years old. Most people graduate at about 22, so you’re about 27, not a soccer mom, like off-roading, and with years to go before your body tells you to dump the Jeep. You’re probably still single too. Did you know chicks dig guys with money?  Keep the $20k (or avoid the payments) and keep doing what you’re doing with the Jeep until you get married. Your future wife will tell you when the Jeep has to go, as well as what should replace it.

  • avatar
    pack66

    Keep driving your Jeep.  Save up for another five years making a car payment to yourself.  Then, go buy whatever you want with the cash you saved up and say good bye to car payments.  Get ahead of the curve!

  • avatar
    pack66

    One more thing…I have a 2005 Merc Montego as a work provided driver.  Not a bad little rental box to take a look at it.  Anonymous but not ugly looks, relatively peppy and handles fairly well.

  • avatar
    obruni

    keep the jeep!
    if you are really unhappy with it as a daily driver, get yourself $5000 worth of used civic/corolla/cobalt and call it a day.
     
     
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      obruni
       
      A Civic is better than a Cobalt… and better than a Corolla. But they are still a penalty box against a nicer car and forcing someone into one.. cause they dont know any better.. should be a crime.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I have a 2008 Legacy GT. It’s great. Nobody knows what it is, and guys in RAMbo trucks and Z71’s etc. swaggering around get a real big surprise if they crowd me. I just leave the area — fast.
     
    Forget all the squabbling info above — if you can find a 2008 or 09 Legacy, go for it. Why bother putting go faster bits on Toyotas or other vehicles? The Subie is fun when you need, a plodding servant in traffic that’ll pull high gear right down to 1300rpm without bucking for some decent mileage on the commute. And I find it has a pretty good ride, certainly better than my brother’s G37x.
     
    The fact you already like the GT from a previous drive shows you have great taste :) Indulge.
     

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